John Manly's Talk
The rest of our journey was very easy, and a little after sunset we reached the house of my masters friend. We were taken into a clean, snug stable; there was a kind coachman, who made us very comfortable, and who seemed to think a good deal of James when he heard about the fire.
There is one thing quite clear, young man, he said, your horses know who they can trust; it is one of the hardest things in the world to get horses out of a stable when there is either fire or flood. I dont know why they wont come out, but they wontnot one in twenty.
We stopped two or three days at this place and then returned home. All went well on the journey; we were glad to be in our own stable again, and John was equally glad to see us.
Before he and James left us for the night James said, I wonder who is coming in my place.
Little Joe Green at the lodge, said John.
Little Joe Green! why, hes a child!
He is fourteen and a half, said John.
But he is such a little chap!
Yes, he is small, but he is quick and willing, and kind-hearted, too, and then he wishes very much to come, and his father would like it; and I know the master would like to give him the chance. He said if I thought he would not do he would look out for a bigger boy; but I said I was quite agreeable to try him for six weeks.
Six weeks! said James; why, it will be six months before he can be of much use! It will make you a deal of work, John.
Well, said John with a laugh, work and I are very good friends; I never was afraid of work yet.
You are a very good man, said James. I wish I may ever be like you.
I dont often speak of myself, said John, but as you are going away from us out into the world to shift for yourself Ill just tell you how I look on these things. I was just as old as Joseph when my father and mother died of the fever within ten days of each other, and left me and my cripple sister Nelly alone in the world, without a relation that we could look to for help. I was a farmers boy, not earning enough to keep myself, much less both of us, and she must have gone to the workhouse but for our mistress (Nelly calls her her angel, and she has good right to do so). She went and hired a room for her with old Widow Mallet, and she gave her knitting and needlework when she was able to do it; and when she was ill she sent her dinners and many nice, comfortable things, and was like a mother to her. Then the master he took me into the stable under old Norman, the coachman that was then. I had my food at the house and my bed in the loft, and a suit of clothes, and three shillings a week, so that I could help Nelly. Then there was Norman; he might have turned round and said at his age he could not be troubled with a raw boy from the plow-tail, but he was like a father to me, and took no end of pains with me. When the old man died some years after I stepped into his place, and now of course I have top wages, and can lay by for a rainy day or a sunny day, as it may happen, and Nelly is as happy as a bird. So you see, James, I am not the man that should turn up his nose at a little boy and vex a good, kind master. No, no! I shall miss you very much, James, but we shall pull through, and theres nothing like doing a kindness when tis put in your way, and I am glad I can do it.
Then, said James, you dont hold with that saying, Everybody look after himself, and take care of number one?
No, indeed, said John, where should I and Nelly have been if master and mistress and old Norman had only taken care of number one? Why, she in the workhouse and I hoeing turnips! Where would
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